Like the majority of Americans, I forget that Fox News still employs Shepard Smith most of the time, because I am usually doing things in the middle of the day that are not watching cable news. However, on the off chance that you are watching Fox News at 3 p.m. Eastern/ 12 p.m. Pacific, you will see Shep Smith doing his thing—which is mostly just frantically trying to undo all of the horrid, viral propaganda that everyone else on his network spews at every other hour of the day.
Take today for example. During a segment about the current border crisis, Smith pointed out in an incredibly pained voice that the migrant caravan traveling toward the U.S. border is not a hostile invasion of criminals and terrorists.
Tomorrow, the migrants, according to Fox News’ reporting, are more than two months away. If any of them actually come here. But tomorrow is one week before the midterm election, which is what all of this is about. There is no invasion. No one is coming to get you. There is nothing at all to worry about. When they did this to us, got us all riled up in April, remember, the result was 14 arrests. We’re America we can handle it. But, like I said, a week to the election.
Fox News, unsurprisingly, did not promote this clip on their Twitter feed. They did however promote the clip immediately after, when Shep tossed the feed to National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin to explain what the DOD’s plans were for deploying 5,200 additional armed soldiers to the border.
Look, it sucks to be Smith. The fact that it sucks to be Smith has been exhaustively documented in several major profiles which noted the contrast between Smith, who is not outwardly a lunatic, and pretty much everyone else at Fox, who is. The problem is, Fox knows this too.
As Brian Merchant pointed out, Fox knows that having Shep say not-insane things sometimes is good for the network, giving them cover for all of the very-insane things that Hannity and Carlson and everyone tangentially involved with Fox and Friends say.
Literally minutes after Smith’s show ended, a Fox News guest said that the migrants were going to bring leprosy to the U.S.! And this is all part of the plan, and it sucks that Smith, an ostensibly reasonable person, is still going on with it. Fox is more than happy to let him continue languishing in an afternoon time slot that draws barely a third of the viewers that Hannity gets a few hours later, when he’s spewing pure propaganda and bile to millions of Americans every night.
Smith signed a new multi-year deal with Fox in March this year, so he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. He’s clearly afraid of what would happen to the average Fox viewer if he left:
From the Time profile:
I wonder, if I stopped delivering the facts, what would go in its place in this place that is most watched, most listened, most viewed, most trusted? I don’t know.
But he must know he’s being used. Is it worth it for him to use the platform that Fox gives him to try to instill some semblance of normalcy to the debate? I honestly don’t know, but at this point, probably not. Viral clashes with his own network may feel like righteous punching-up to the rest of us, but it’s pretty clear that every shot is still missing Rupert Murdoch’s chin.